What’s the Deal With Hot Spots?

Finding a wound on your dog isn’t an easy experience.

If you’ve owned a dog for longer than a few years you’re likely familiar with the uncomfortable and frustrating lesions known as “hot spots”. These sores are fairly common and appear in every breed of dog, and the causes of them are seemingly endless. Getting rid of one can be a real pain, especially for your poor pup. So what’s the deal with these common irritations?

What are hot spots?

Hot spots are officially known as acute moist dermatitis, which is a fancy way of saying gross, pussy sores that pop up on your dog’s face. They can also appear just about anywhere else on their body but primarily seem to occur around the head or near the rear. That’s because these are the easiest places for your dog to pick at when she itches.

What causes them?

Hot spots are caused by a myriad of illnesses and bugs. The truth is that it can be hard to determine what, exactly, initially led to the lesion but it grows in size because of scratching and licking that occurs in a certain spot. A bug bite, fleas, allergies and infected anal sacs can all cause your pup to go to town on an area of her body to the point where a hot spot erupts. Even consistent chewing due to boredom can lead to one.

dog wound


What are the dangers?

The problem with hot spots is that they open your dog up to further infection. Even those caused by a pre-existing bacterial infection beneath the skin can form a secondary infection on top, leading to a painful experience for your dog and a hefty vet bill. That’s why treating a hot spot soon after finding it should be a top priority—do not let it build up over a few days or you’ll risk further complications.

How to prevent hot spots.

While any dog can develop hot spots over the course of a lifetime, some breeds are more prone to them than others. Longhaired breeds in particular are more likely to develop them, as are breeds with coarse, thick hair. Hot spots are more common during the summer months when there’s plenty of moisture in the air, so be sure to check your pup daily for anything that looks off.

Keep your dog well groomed, but avoid irritating the skin, and do daily checks for bugs or bites on her body. When you see your dog scratching or licking enthusiastically at one area, it might be time to whip out the cone of shame. While inconvenient, it’s a much safer and affordable alternative to what awaits you should a hot spot develop.

How to heal them.

Hot spots won’t just go away on their own. A combination of medications and an Elizabethan collar will likely be necessary to help the healing process, along with some rest and relaxation so as not to irritate the lesion. Your veterinarian will need to diagnose the underlying cause of the licking and scratching and supply you with antibiotics or steroids to make sure it doesn’t reoccur. They might also send you home with some pain meds to help your pup sleep more easily at night while she fights off any infection.

A hot spot is much easier to prevent than it’s to treat, so try and keep your dog on the right path by grooming her, keeping her up to date on flea and tick medication, as well and providing her with plenty of exercise each day.

Meet the Author: Ben Kerns

Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible. This stuff gets expensive.

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